April Poem

April is Azalea Festival month in Wilmington. Here are the winners of this year’s High School Writing Contest, as selected by the Azalea Festival committee. Congratulations to Katherine Neilsen and Hilary Batista!

Our Azaleas

Pitter-Patter. Pitter-Patter. I awoke to the gentle beat of rain on my window and smiled.

Today’s the day! Tiptoeing down the hallway, I picked up my raincoat and quickly tumbled outside to the garden, like a toddler when they spot a mouthwatering piece of candy. The day was beautiful. Other than the light drops of rain cascading down, the sun was bright, the grass was green, and everything seemed perfect. It was just like a picture from a fairy tale.

My eyes scanned our garden, until I spotted the azaleas. Our azaleas. The flowers were small, yet colorful, like an intricate painting strewn across the yard. I grinned as I remembered when we had first planted the shrubs a few months back, and now they were gorgeously in full bloom.

Creeaakkkk. The sound of a door opening stirred me from my thoughts. I smiled as I saw my mom, dad, and little brother standing in front of me.

“What are you doing out here in the rain?” my dad chuckled.

I laughed. My brother raced over to where I was and took a look at the azaleas, answering my dad’s question. Wow, his eyes seemed to say. My parents walked over to where we were, and we all took in their beauty. Finally, I asked the question that I knew was on all of our minds. “Is it time yet?”

A pause, then another chuckle. “Yes, it is.”

A few hours later and we were at the parade. Vendors walked the streets, selling goodies and mouthwatering yummies. Children and adults alike walked around, joy on their faces as they saw old friends and were embraced by relatives. Residents poured out of their windows to catch a glimpse of the spectacle. Suddenly, woos, cheers, and clapping erupted in the area. I turned just as the procession began and joined in the sea of people oohing at the colorful floats and music, maybe even spotting a celebrity or two!

I took a deep breath. The parade was more than a parade to me. It was a time where everyone came together. A time where our community put on its best show, and we all gave back to each other, where all the cultures that flourish in our city stand out. A time where children are given hope as they look at the Azalea Belles and princesses and imagine themselves there one day, while adults beam remembering themselves as kids long ago, watching the parade too!

Suddenly everyone became quiet. You could hear little kids whispering and pointing, “Mommy is that her? I wanna be like that! Is that really her? She looks like a princess!”
Could that really be her? I craned my neck up to see.

As I caught sight of the Queen, I saw the azaleas on her float. They were beautiful! They bloomed with a sense of pride. Colorful and small, yet with a lot to say. Astonishing. Just like our Wilmington.

Hilary Batista is a 9th-grade student at Ashley High School.

A Wilmington Tradition

Wilmington is in bloom;

Springtime is here.

The Azalea Festival is coming;

Hear the people cheer.

The street vendors are out;

Get an ice cold lemonade.

It’s a Carolina tradition;

To watch the big parade.

Azaleas are everywhere;

Coral and white.

Not a single bush is bare;

It’s quite the sight.

Busy bees are buzzing;

Birds are flying.

Breathe in the spring air;

Everyone is smiling.

Girls in the garden;

Wearing colorful gowns.

Their hair all pinned up,

They’re the belles of the town.

They walk with grace;

And wear a smile.

Stop and look;

At their Southern style.

The market is open;

The streets are filled.

Get ready to buy;

Aren’t you thrilled?

Anything from art to jewels;

There’s a great selection.

So, stop by a booth;

And check out the collection.

Excitement in the air;

As the stage lights up.

People anticipating the affair;

Ready for the lineup.

They bought their tickets;

To see the concert.

Their favorite singers.

Wearing their band shirts.

With a pop and a boom;

Bright colors fill the sky.

Kids look in wonder;

As the lights go by.

When they finally end;

People start to go.

Remembering fondly;

The fireworks’ glow.

Katherine Neilsen is an 11th-grade student at Laney High School.

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